Animal Planet Has Lined Up Dozens of New Advertisers

Thanks to an integration-friendly slate of originals

Chalk some of it up to simple ratings growth but never underestimate the power of a good tree house integration.

Animal Planet in 2013 has scared up 34 new clients, a roster that includes 11 advertisers that have never before bought time on a Discovery Communications network. Among the newcomers are BRP, which manufactures recreational vehicles; the casual dining chain Romano’s Macaroni Grill; and YellaWood, a company that trades in pressure-treated lumber products.

While Animal Planet’s fundamentals remain attractive—the net has enjoyed 21 months of uninterrupted demo growth—its unique integration-friendly environment is perhaps its greatest value proposition.

“[The guys from Treehouse Masters] used one of our premium products in one of their projects,” said James Riley, CMO of Abbeville, Ala.-based YellaWood. Endemics are, of course, the first advertisers out of the gate on shows about fantasy construction, but Riley said it was a kick to hear that he’d made a convert, as well as a business partner. “Pete Nelson and his team are out of the Pacific Northwest, so they didn’t have a lot of experience with Southern yellow pine,” Riley said. “He’s become a big fan, and he’s started using us on other projects.”

In an age when slower growth in the cable universe and worries about DVR-enabled ad avoidance are on every client’s mind, that’s the kind of thing that makes the difference between a sale and no sale. Some execs (notably CBS’ Les Moonves) are pushing for saleable ratings to include a week’s worth of DVR replays, but Discovery’s president of ad sales, Joe Abruzzese, says he doesn’t think that’s in anybody’s best interest. “We keep kicking this around—C3 vs. C7—and what we’re finding out is that advertisers really want C3,” he said. “C7 doesn’t serve the advertisers.”

As it turns out, the Discovery networks, particularly Animal Planet, attract almost entirely live viewing, so Abruzzese needn’t worry about having to convince clients that viewers aren’t skipping ads on playback. According to Nielsen, the net only saw a difference of about 10,000 viewers between C3 and C7 ratings in total day. It also has a nearly even gender split, so it’s been able to branch out.

“We had all the pet endemics and all the major female packaged-good companies,” recalled evp of ad sales Sharon O’Sullivan. “Now we have a really strong proposition against male categories—alcohol, home improvement and the more male-focused end of the movies category.”

O’Sullivan said integrations such as a recent Dyson vacuums-Finding Bigfoot execution have made a major difference to clients looking for direct brand association. “A lot of our advertisers want to get close to the content,” she said, “and they want to get closer to the ratings.”